DARLINGTON, S.C. — After practicing both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup cars Friday at Darlington in preparation for her debut in both series at the 1.366-mile track, Danica Patrick summed up her hopes and expectations for Saturday night’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 in four words: “I just want to finish.”
“I definitely think getting through the night with a respectable night is what I’m hoping for in the Nationwide car, and as far as the Cup car . . . I just want to finish,” said Patrick, who was the slowest of 47 drivers in the first Cup practice session.
“I just want to finish, which is going to be a challenge, I think.”
Patrick got her baptism — otherwise known as a Darlington stripe — during her first run in the Nationwide car. In the first Cup practice, she hit the wall three more times.
“I’ve hit it four times now,” Patrick said before Happy Hour. “Getting pretty cozy with it. . . . This is not a cookie-cutter track by any means. That’s the challenge.
“I can only imagine that once I finally get a good grip on it, I’m going to be much more confident out there, and maybe the Lady in Black and I will become friends one day.”
Indeed, the relationship improved in the second practice session. With a top speed of 170.851 mph, Patrick was 24th fastest in final practice, improving nearly three miles per hour over her quickest lap in the first session.